Effective Ways to Tackle Procrastination
The truth is, every human being at one point or the other has put off a task that was in fact very important to them. Whether it involved office assignments that had to be submitted the day after or something as mundane as the doing the laundry. Of course we all know such action or inaction is called procrastination but have you ever taken time out to consider why people procrastinate? Alright, let us bring it down to a narrower scale; make it more personal. Have you ever wondered why you procrastinate?
While most people see procrastination as a form of laziness, I am of the opinion that it goes beyond just that (I have academic backings to buttress my argument). In human psychology, a school of thought believes that people who procrastinate tend to have a false sense of time; that is they actually think that there is time enough to carry out a particular task even if that task is not carried out at the stipulated time. While this might be true in some instances, it is not always so. More recent research has suggested that procrastination is highly linked with the difficulty of managing stress. To be more specific, task aversion is the reason why we procrastinate.
While procrastinators may try to avoid distress, in the long run this approach may ironically cause more distress. Procrastination can lead to greater stress, problems with health and poorer performance. Procrastinators have more problems with sleep than non-procrastinators, experience more stress and regret. Moreover, procrastination can also hamper your self-esteem with the thoughts of guilt, shame, or self-criticism that can result from postponing tasks. If you happen to be struggling with procrastination, then you are reading the right article. Allow me take you through seven proven ways that you can tackle procrastination.
1. Focus on the “Why”
Procrastinators tend to focus on short-term gratification which is the avoidance of stress or an unpleasant experience. This is opposed to the long-term gain of doing the task and avoiding the risk involved in not doing it. I believe I write in general terms but I will not shy away from giving streamlined examples when necessary. When we focus on why we are to complete a task in the first place, we tend to find strength to do it _as knowing, the “why” helps in coming to terms with the long term benefits of carrying out that particular task.
If you put off a closet cleaning, imagine walking into the closet when it’s de-cluttered and how good it’s going to feel, consider how much money you are going to make by selling the unnecessary clutter on eBay or how those in need will feel when receiving these items as donations. If you’ve been avoiding an exercise program, focus on how exercising will help you get more positive energy, give you a boost in self-esteem, and serve as a great role model for your kids. Of course, if you have been procrastinating reading for your exams, think about how failing that paper will make you feel. What is your why?
2. Get out of your Calendar
No doubt, we all have priorities. On our calendars or to do list, we tend to label some responsibilities as tasks that should be done when you have extra time and the truth is most of these tasks hardly ever get done. You want to know why? Because the concept of extra time is false. We all have 24 hours in a day. You really do not need to schedule your ‘free time’ as time that is set aside to work on tasks that are very important to you or even the ones that aren’t as important.
Here is a trick, when you have something that you have put in your calendar to do in let’s say four days’ time, you can start preparing for it now _it will reduce the time required to complete that task by half and you will have enough time to get other things done. I am of the opinion that free time in its entirety is a task that can be postponed in itself.
3. Break the Task Down
When a task appears to be overwhelming, chances are procrastination will follow. One way to make it less overwhelming is to have the task broken into smaller and more manageable parts. For instance, if you want to write a book, you can choose to outline it, identify each chapter, figure out the sections in the chapters, and then commit to writing one segment at a time. Chunking it that way will help you feel less overwhelmed and more empowered.
4. Get a Partner
Set specific deadlines for a task to be completed. Then find someone to be accountable to. It might be a promise to your boss or client that by a certain date you will complete the job. Or perhaps it’s a coach that will help you stay on track. Whatever you choose, find a partner for accountability sake. In this relationship, at certain time intervals (such as once a week) you connect with someone (for example on the phone) and commit to what you are going to do before your next meeting. This is a great way to squash procrastination, not wanting to go back on your word. With experience, I recommend this person not to be your partner/spouse. You do not want to build unwanted tension between you two for the sake of accountability. Your partner can be your study mate, your co-worker, your boss or even your parents.
5. Optimize your Environment
Your environment can either enhance your productivity or hinder it. You have got to be aware of technology, especially the little smart phones we have these days and the internet that they can access. The number of hours that people spend on the internet is overwhelmingly on the rise, the internet in all its vastness presents just another excuse for a procrastinator not to finish that task. You just can’t deny the fact that watching videos on YouTube or Instagram is awesome, a perfect excuse not to read your books or finish that assignment.
So, always make sure that you subdue your environment. Switch off your phone if you have to. Get out of your house if you have to or put a “Do Not Disturb” sign in front of your door if you want alone time. Just ensure that you get rid of possible distractions.
6. Forgive Yourself
Don’t let the past beat you up. Thoughts like “I ought to have begun earlier,” or “I always do not; I am such a loser” only make things worse. Research shows that forgiving yourself for past delays helps you resume working on a task. You can also try to use your experiences from past procrastination. Ask yourself how it all happened, what the cause of the procrastination was and find ways to tackle it instead of dwelling on the fact that you haven’t tackled it yet. Then deal with the present and future obstacles. For example, if you have been afraid, what steps can you take to feel less frightened next time???
7. Don’t be a Perfectionist
If you are waiting for the perfect time to write that book, start that business or to finish that assignment in order to get the best out of your efforts, chances are you might never find that time. Perfectionism is a mentality of all or nothing: it is either something is perfect or it is a failure.
People with this trait tend to wait for things to go perfectly, and so if they slightly feel that a task won’t be perfect, they freak out and postpone it. This can be controlled however; all you need to do is to concentrate on being better and not being perfect. That means striving for excellence, being at the top of your game or simply focusing on carrying out the task at hand.